Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Miracles!

Well, hello my sweet family and friends!

It has been another wonderful week here in Cedar Falls. I feel so blessed to be serving here, and I do hope I can stay! Of course I will go wherever the Lord calls me, though. We will find out what's happening today. Sister Boone has been here 6 months, so it looks like she will most likely be transferred and I will stay, but we just never know!

My Christmas was just amazing. I wasn't homesick, sad, or lonely, even for a second! It is incredible how much joy we can have when the source of it is Our Savior! We spent the day visiting and eating with members, and saw Angie. The best part of the day was definitely talking to my family. I was so happy to see everyone, what a blessing modern technology is!

The extra exciting news of the week- Angie was baptized- exactly 7 years and 2 weeks to the day she began investigating! It was a great day. Sister Boone and I got up, ready, and headed to the church to make breakfast for Angie, Wayne, and Julie. We made waffles and eggs, it was pretty great. After breakfast, Angie got changed, we took pictures, and then had a wonderful service! The members who have been fellow shipping her were so kind, and brought the spirit so strong as they spoke and bore testimony. Angie was very touched by the love that she felt from people who hardly know her, and expressed to us so many times just how grateful she was for them. Member involvement makes a world of difference! She was pretty nervous leading up to her baptism, but said she felt great afterward. She was also confirmed at the service, because we knew that she would be with her family the next day for their annual Christmas celebration. Her confirmation was great as well, and included so many blessings and a lot of counsel that were just for her. We are so excited for her, and proud of this decision she made. It is incredible to think of the many blessings that will finally be able to come to her as a member of the church! Pray that she will remain strong and active.

Our teaching pool has shrunk in the best way, so it looks like we'll be doing some nice tracting in this freezing winter weather over the next few weeks. (it's -9 today, plus a nice little wind chill) Please pray for us that we will be able to stay safe and warm, and find those in our area who are prepared to receive us and the gospel! I know there are many.

I love you all so much. I have received so many cards, letters, and little gifts over the last couple of weeks. I feel very blessed, loved, and am grateful for the support! Thank you thank you thank you. :)

Sister Alex Monroe
 My Grinch-panion. :)

 Christmas eve pizza- yeah, we love pizza.

 Our cute little tree

 My gift from Sis. Boone, I love it. (We just picked out something we wanted and
bought it for each other- there's no secret gifting when you're together 24/7)

 My first white Christmas. It snowed all day long. 

 Our district. We're kind of ridiculous.

 Little Angie all ready for her baptism! :)

 Bro. Gabel (a ward member who Angie asked to baptize and
confirm her), Angie, me, and Sis. Boone.

Bro. Gabel and Angie.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

BEST WEEK EVER! And it's not even Christmas yet!

Well, everyone, it brings me pure joy to tell you...
Mick was baptized and Confirmed on Saturday, December 21st!
I can't even begin to accurately explain what an incredible weekend it was, but I'll try.
I could make it super short, and just say it was good, but that would just be boring!

Because he was so busy, we didn't see Mick from Sunday until Friday, the night before his baptism. His best friend, Todd had arrived from Idaho, and with a couple sisters from the ward, we had a great lesson on Priesthood and callings. He loved it. Todd was joking with him that one of the callings they like to give is garbage guy, and Mick said he'd humbly accept even that calling! He and Todd are both so funny, so the short time he was here was very fun. Mick told him a lot of fun stories about the time we've been teaching him- my personal favorite is that he refers to the time I invited him to be baptized with a date, resolved his concerns, and bore testimony as, "the close." (You know- like a salesman closing a deal- the time he told me he was going to hire me to sell RVs) Todd gave me a fist bump when Mick told him about that. :) The two of them played a little basketball after the lesson, which was pretty entertaining. Mick played college ball at one point, but it took him a bit to get warmed up, and he's injured. We found out that he does not like losing. Luckily, he won the last round.
The next morning (of the baptism) we met Mick and Todd for breakfast, and Mick was definitely feeling stressed and nervous. As we talked and ate, though, he was able to find a bit of relief, and we were glad we got to spend the time with him. Example of how awesome Mick is- he was the one who, when our food came, asked Todd to bless it -out loud. Yeah, he never ceases to amaze us. His new white shirt needed ironing, and he's never had to, so he asked if we would. We did that, and then gathered up a couple things and went to the church to get everything ready. Mick and Todd had beat us there and were playing basketball again. Mick was still a little tense as they were playing, and it showed-- this'll tie in later-promise! Anyway, I told them it was time to get changed, we took pictures, and then had the best baptismal service ever.
Just before it started, the bishop told us that due to the snowstorm coming in, it would be better to confirm him at the service, as opposed to waiting because sacrament meeting could be cancelled. This was unexpected, but great because Todd would now be able to confirm him too, he wouldn't have otherwise because he flew out saturday night. The spirit was wonderful as the service started, and the baptism was incredible. Mick was so happy when he came up out of the water. After they got changed, and there was a talk about the Holy Ghost, Mick was confirmed. I cannot explain just how strong the spirit was. From the vary start of the prayer, it was almost palpable. The blessings given to him in that prayer were so personal, and close to his heart. It was beautiful.
After the service, Sister Wilson had put together a luncheon- it was great! And, once that was over, Mick, Todd, and the elders from our district, played basketball. It was so interesting, because Mick was so happy- He seemed different, and did not get frustrated or tense when he was losing. Sister Boone and I loved seeing that change in him! He told us that he felt really good, and thanked us for everything, as did Todd. When the two of them left, sister Boone and I gave each other a big celebratory hug, and the elders clapped and cheered for us. Haha.
I know that we did not do this alone, and I feel so incredibly blessed to have been a small part in Mick's teaching process, and journey into the Gospel. He is such a great man. This experience has absolutely changed my mission- testimony- and life. He went home for Christmas- which he hasn't done in years- but we've been texting him, and he is dong "awesome."  Pray that he will continue to feel the Holy Ghost, and adjust to membership in the church.

After Mick's baptism, we went to see Angie- had an incredible lesson- and she is now solid for her baptism this Saturday! Such a miracle. Seven years in the making! Her interview is tonight. Pray that all will go well for her, and that she will be baptized on the 28th.

Merry Christmas, and thank you for all the prayers you have offered in support of me and our investigators- we are seeing miracles every day!

All my love,
Sister Monroe

Mick and I.
Todd and Mick.

Todd, Mick, Sister Boone and I.

We got a bit of "freezing rain" one night. It leaves a nice sheet of ice on everything.
 My Christmas package/gifts from home- I loved it! Thank you so much Mom and Dad!

 Post-Baptism basketball!

 We wore matching tights on baptism day. 

 Elder Aiasau, being ridiculous.

 The coolest mirror ever. (that's all I've unwrapped- I'm saving the rest!)
 A box of food that the relief society presidency
gave Sister Boone and I- so nice. We love this ward so much!

Monday, December 16, 2013

It (already looks) a lot like Christmas!

The snow here in Iowa has officially stuck, and I still love it! :)
We had exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders in their area (Cedar Rapids) on Tuesday, and it was really fun. We got to go caroling with the Relief Society. Then, Wednesday morning, we all drove to Iowa City for ZONE CONFERENCE. Oh my goodness, it was so great. There were 4 zones there, and we had wonderful trainings by the assistants, President Jensen, and Sister Jensen. They fed us a delicious lunch, and then we had district skits, which were so fun! Our district sang the first noel, Sister Boone and I did a duet for the first verse. After that, we watched the movie Ephraim's Rescue. It was a great movie, and it was so nice to watch one! President and Sister Jensen had little Christmas gift bags for each of us, and we got those just before we left. During this conference, I felt so at home, and loved. Mission Christmases are basically incredible. I feel so blessed to be serving in this mission, I think it's the best in the world. ;)

Biggest and most exciting happening- everything is ready for Mick's baptism. His interview went very well, and we were able to get everything arranged for the service this coming Saturday. Most importantly, Mick is doing incredible. It is such a unique, wonderful blessing to watch the atonement at work like this. He has had some big personal trials this week, but is moving forward in Faith. He came to the ward Christmas party, and church, and really enjoyed both. The ward has done amazing at fellow shipping and welcoming him. We are so excited for him! It's going to be a beautiful day. Pray that all will go well for him this week!

Other fun stories:
Sister Boone kind of injured me this week. So, church policy is that no matter what, one missionary stands behind/outside the car and directs the driver whenever they are backing up. Usually this is no problem, but on Tuesday morning we were parked in an awkward spot in our little parking lot, and I had to stand right in front of a tree and help her make a 3-point turn to get out. (It was that, or back her through the whole little parking lot without slipping in the snow/ice.) So, once she got close to the tree, she lost sight of my hand, and was going at it blind. She ended up pinning my shins between the car and the tree for a few seconds. Luckily she stopped when she did, and I was perfectly fine. I just have some pretty sweet bruises. :) Needless to say, we will avoid that spot at all costs from now on. Haha.

On Friday afternoon, while we were making lunch, our ceiling started leaking some nice drywall-smelling yellow brown water (yes- that's all it was, thank goodness). This was troubling because we are in the second of 4 floors. It was one little dot at first, and within the hour progressed to 12 little dots all with a steady drip. We were able to figure out a catching system, and luckily it slowed down, and stopped by about midnight. It has since been resolved, it was just funny. The perks of living in a shabby converted house apartment. So much fun! :)

I can't wait to tell you all about Mick's baptism next week, It will be so awesome.
Thank you for all the love and prayers and support. It means so much!

Love you all!
Sister Monroe

Mick and us at the ward "Snow Ball" He's so awesome. :)

 I ran into Sister Murphy at Zone Conference!

 Exchange picture! I love Sis. Egbert and Sis. Cannon.

 Sister Jensen and I! She is just the sweetest. 

 A sweet package from my sweet big sister. Thanks Ash!
 Battle wounds from Sis. Boone hitting me with the car. Haha.

 Sometimes your janky/awesome apartment leaks weird fluids

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I just love Iowa!

Well, it has snowed before, but I am happy to report that I am experiencing my first REAL, stick to the ground, hats, boots, gloves and scarves required, shovel-worthy, drive slowly and carefully, SNOW. I am also happy to report that for the time being, I still love it! It's so fun! Even my Idahoan companion agrees. :) It started snowing while we were in ward council yesterday and didn't really stop all day. For the last few hours of the night, it was snowing these big, gorgeous, sparkly snowflakes. I was in awe. Here's hoping the fascination doesn't leave me too quickly!

Oh man, Mick is doing incredible. We had him read Ether 12, and 2 Nephi 31 this week, and he really enjoyed both. He said they stuck with him, and that he felt peaceful. It is so incredible to see the Lord's promises be fulfilled like that, I knew the scriptures would mean something to him eventually. We are planning his baptism for Dec 21st at 1 pm, and could not be more excited, and he told us that he has been feeling really peaceful about everything. His friend and boss who introduced him to the church is even flying out from Idaho to baptize him.This week we went to teach tithing, and before we started we were asking him about baptismal arrangements, who he'd like to participate and all of that. We transitioned to the lesson by pulling out the pamphlets and handing him one, and before we even start, he says "We are to fast the first Sunday of every month. We donate ten percent, and the money from our fast..." he went on to tell us about tithing, and how he loves it, believes in it,  and makes an effort to always donate to the poor. He also told us, " I don't normally talk about it, because we aren't supposed to brag about those things, but in this setting.." He even said that when he was being taught in Idaho, he filled out a slip, and sent his tithing in! Sister Boone and I were not surprised, but blown away. This was opposite of what either if us is used to hearing. It was such an incredible lesson, Mick is SO prepared for the gospel. As always, he also said some hilarious things. As we were talking about his baptism, he asked us if anyone we had taught together in Cedar Falls had been baptized yet, and we said no. He raises his arms in the air gets this big grin and says, "So, I'll be the first!" We told him that neither of us had taught anyone who had been baptized yet, and he thought that was really cool too. He is excited. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of his conversion, it is such a miracle. Mick's baptismal interview is on Thursday, please pray that all will go well leading up to his baptism!

Angie is doing well. She has gone two weeks without coffee. She really doesn't like Pero, but has still been drinking it. She is reading from the Book of Mormon, and praying about everything. She almost dropped her baptismal date last night, but we had an incredible lesson about the blessings of living the gospel, and why we're inviting her to be baptized. We each bore our testimonies, and the spirit was very strong. She is pushing forward, and we pray that she will receive strength and confirmation that this is the right thing. For now, we are still on for the 28th. Please pray for her!

Julie backed out of the stop smoking workshop, she is really scared to quit. She said that she is not ready, and that she can't quit in time for her baptism. She still wants to be baptized, and quit, she is just going through a hard time, and I know the adversary is really pushing on her. We will continue to teach her, and set a date that she feels more comfortable with. Please pray for her!

Brandy's date will have to be pushed, it's been another week that we have not been able to see her. We are praying for the opportunity to teach her as soon as possible! She may be able to be baptized on the 28th, but it would take a couple miracles.

Gabriel is well, we were not able to teach him this week, but have an appointment for Thursday, so that's great.

We had lunch with Sis. Dunigan on Friday, it was so fun. She is such a blessing, and really brightens our days.

Our ward's Christmas program sacrament meeting was yesterday, it was amazing. It was all music with a bit of narration. The spirit was strong, and I had the experience of feeling completely comfortable in a ward that is not my own, it was such a blessing. I am so grateful to be serving here in Cedar Falls. We have quite the ward here, and amazing investigators. While I of course miss my family, I would not want to be anywhere else but here right now. I know this is where Heavenly Father has called me. :)

All my love,
Sister Monroe

 We make pizza once a week, and this week we made it on my click day. 5 months already!

 I told Sis. Boone not to steal my recliner while I was gone, so she found a way to.
She is so funny. We love each other. :)

 The sweetest package from my cousin Jen. I feel so loved! Thank you!

 I just had to! It's a winter wonderland out here!

 Prettiest snowflakes!
Our view.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

So much to be Thankful for!

What a week this has been! Sister Boone and I are so blessed, and experiencing miracles each day. Thursday, we spent just visiting members. We were blessed to have dinner with the Willsons. They are such an awesome family. Bro. and Sis. Willson are ward missionaries, and do so much to help us. Anyway, we went there and Sis. Willson had made a full thanksgiving feast. It was so delicious, and even better, I felt like I was with family. I am serving in such an incredible ward with equally incredible people. The Willsons even invited their next door neighbor, who is not a member. We all ate together, and later we shared a message about gratitude from President Monson's october 2010 conference talk. It was a wonderful afternoon.
Our investigators are doing incredible!
We have seen Mick 3 times in the last 3 days, and he is progressing quickly toward his baptism on the 21st. He is so prepared! All 3 times we've seen him this week, he has referred to himself as a member already. For example, he had asked where the name "mormon" came from, so we explained briefly. He then asked, "what do WE prefer to be called?" Seriously, we are so blessed to be teaching him. He came to church yesterday, for the second time, and loved it, and the members are really reaching out and fellow shipping him, which has been instrumental. Mick has been reading from the Book of Mormon, but has a hard time understanding or relating to it, and said that he felt nothing when he read the first chapter. His desire to learn and gain a testimony are great, so we pray that Heavenly Father will help him recieve revelation as soon as possible. Please pray that he will be able to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon, and be baptized on the 21st!
Julie (Angie's Sis-in-law) is also doing miraculously well. We went to her place this week, and when we sat down, we saw that she somehow had gotten a copy of the baptismal interview questions from Angie, and had been studying them! We hadn't even set a solid date for her baptism. We were so excited. Other than a couple of the commandments, she didn't have any questions or concerns. We were able to have a great discussion about baptism, and faith, and repentance, and set a date for December 28th. We will be teaching her a stop smoking workshop this week, and she really wants to quit. She is so strong, and excited, so we have faith that she will be able to. If all goes well, she and Angie will be baptized on the same day! Angie is also doing well. She just needs to quit drinking coffee. Please pray for them!
Brandy is doing well, but has not been to church, and we haven't been able to teach her for a couple weeks, so we need a miracle here. Her desire is huge, and she is excited, just so busy. Please pray that we'll be able to teach her soon, and that she might make her baptismal date on the 21st.
We have been so busy each and every day, which is awesome. We are so excited for each of our investigators, and are working to ensure that we can help them prepare for baptism! Heavenly Father loves them so much, it is such an incredible thing to feel as we teach and testify to them of the Gospel. I truly feel so indebted to my Father in Heaven for all that He is letting me help Him do! Thank you so much for all of your prayers and support. I am so supported by them!

Much Love,
Sister Monroe

 A package from my Aunt Shawna, thank you SO much! 

 A surprise Christmas package from Mama Reynolds. Holy cow, she is amazing.
There was even doubles of quite a few things for my companion! We are sure grateful.

 Thanksgiving dinner! Yum! (She even sent us home with plenty of leftovers.)

 We drove over the Cedar River on our way to district meeting in Waverly. It was gorgeous!

We got Angie a couple little gifts to help her quit coffee! ;)

Monday, November 25, 2013

I Love to See the Temple!

Hello friends and family! This week was an exciting one. I am grateful to be serving in Cedar Falls with Sister Boone, and today starts six more weeks here together! We are continuing to see miracles, and I feel so blessed to be even a tiny part of Heavenly Father's plan for so many of His precious children.

One of this week's miracles was that we were finally able to see Mick again, after a month! The lesson went so great. We taught the Plan of Salvation, and as we did there was such an incredible spirit there with us. It is such a gift to bear your testimony, and be able to see it affect someone as you speak. We invited him to be baptized on December 21st, which he accepted! So exciting! He did express a concern about not knowing what he wants in life, and not being 100% sure or ready about baptism. I took the opportunity to bear my testimony, and for a moment I could feel the spirit helping me say the words that would touch his heart, and see him receiving them with joy. When I was finished speaking, he said, "Sister Monroe, is it?" - yes "I'm gonna hire you to sell RVs." Oh man, it was funny, and so sweet. I told him that I don't have a testimony of RVs, so I probably wouldn't be good at it! Mick is such a cool guy. I am so excited for him. He has been through so much, and come out an honorable, humble person. I know the gospel will bless him so much. He is calling his friend who introduced him to the sisters in Boise this week to see if he would be able to come baptize him. Please pray for Mick, that he will read the Book of Mormon, pray about it and baptism, and receive answers to his prayers. Oh, and be baptized on December 21st.

We have not been able to see Brandy this week, but have been texting her a lot. She is doing well, and still on track to be baptized on the 21st of Dec. as well. Pray that she will!

Angie is also doing well, still praying about and working toward baptism on December 28th. This week, we challenged her to quit coffee. We were able to get her some Pero to replace it, so hopefully that will help! We will be teaching tithing this week, which she doesn't have a good understanding of, so we pray that she will have a soft heart and open mind as we teach. She is still reading the Book of Mormon, which is great! Please pray that she will be baptized on Dec. 28th.

On Saturday, we got up at 4:20, went to a member's house, and got a 3-hour ride to Nauvoo! We were blessed with this opportunity to join our ward on the ward temple trip. We attended the 9 am session, with our members, and it was so wonderful. It was so nice to be there with people we knew, and the session was just incredible. We had a short outdoor fireside with the temple president and his wife, and a luncheon at the nearby stake center. Despite the 12 degree weather with a nasty cold wind, it was a gorgeous day. The Nauvoo temple has such a special, incredible spirit, and is so gorgeous. I am so grateful for the temple, and will miss it for 6 more months until I can go again!

We have a dinner appointment for thanksgiving with the Willsons, who are incredible. I love them. So, it should be a great day, and week. Hopefully I just don't freeze in this snow!  I love you and miss you all, especially my sweet new niece Adelaide. :) Congratulations, Abby and Jesse!!!

-Sister Monroe

(alex sent this below in addition- for all you who read this and are thinking of a christmas missionary package)

Here is some info that came in the e-mail from President this week. Feel free to tack it on to my post! Oh, and please tell Shawna I got her package this morning, and I am so grateful.

 Christmas Packages: TODAY IS THE DAY!!!!!  Email your parents with this information regarding Christmas Packages! Since there are no transfers during the month of December, please have your family and friends send your Christmas packages directly to your apartment.  On November 25th, inform your family of your current address and tell them to send your packages to that address.  We strongly recommend using Priority Mail, as there is always a chance of an emergency transfer.  Again, we remind you that packages sent Priority Mail or 1st Class are the only packages that can be forwarded.  Packages sent “Standard Post” or “Parcel Post” cannot be forwarded, and UPS and FedEx do NOT offer forwarding service.  Remember that most items ordered on line are sent via UPS or Fed Ex.  Zone Conferences start on December 10th, and that is the last chance a package has to get to you before Christmas if we cannot forward it.  Any package that arrives at the Mission Office after December 9th that cannot be forwarded will not get to you until Transfers on January 2, 2014.  We know how important your packages are to you, and we try our best to get them to you as quickly as possible.  However, the number of packages that cannot be forwarded is becoming difficult to manage.  PLEASE, PLEASE tell your family and friends to use Priority Mail and follow the instructions provided above.

Again, our apt. is: 2610 College st. #2 Cedar Falls, IA 50613


 During one of our visits with Sister Dunigan this week, I gave her a chapter to
read written on a mustache post-it. She put it on, so I did too, and we
took a picture. She is SO funny, and loves us so much.

 House of the Lord, Holiness to the Lord.

 Joseph and Hyrum's last ride. This is such a cool statue.
The spirit of the prophet is so incredible here.

 So gorgeous.

 The beautiful Nauvoo temple, you can see me if you just zoom in! :)

 I love the sunstones.

Famous Nauvoo fudge, it was delicious.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A little snow, a lot of blessings!

Wow- SO many miracles this week! Sister Boone and I were blessed to find not one, but 2 new investigators. I feel so blessed to be a part of this work, and especially to be in this area!

The first new investigator was definitely unexpected. Wayne has been in the hospital, unfortunately, but is okay, and headed home today or tomorrow. Because of this, his sister, Julie has been helping and staying with Angie. We went over the day after Wayne went to the hospital, met Julie, and got talking. Before we knew it, she was pouring her heart out to us and weeping as we shared the plan of salvation. I can't express how strong the spirit was- wow! She said she'd read the book of mormon, and Angie volunteered to read from the beginning with her- So awesome! We met with her a second time, taught the restoration, and extended the invitation to be baptized. She accepted without delay. She is such a sweet, humble lady. She has had a hard life, but has come out of it with an earnest desire to know and understand God, and follow Jesus Christ. Toward the end of the second lesson, Julie asked Angie when she was getting baptized, and Angie told her, "Well, if everything turns out alright with Wayne, I'll be getting baptized on Dec. (she looked at me because she had forgotten the  exact date- haha) 28th, and if you want to get baptized with me, then hey, go right ahead!" Sister Boone and I were just grinning ear to ear. Julie said she doesn't think she'd be ready by then, which is interesting, because that is the baptismal date we've felt like we need to extend to her. We plan to re- extend it next time we teach. It still feels right, and hopefully after we teach about baptism, she'll feel the spirit confirm it to her. It was such a great lesson! Sis. Boone and I looked at each other as we left, like what just happened? One of our investigators just invited our other investigator to be baptized on a date! Haha. We were so happy. I love our investigators so much. They are such characters, and wonderful children of God! Please pray for Julie, that she will receive an answer about baptism, and be prepared to accept a date. Please also pray for Wayne- that he will continue to recover, and Angie that she will continue to prepare for her baptism on Dec. 28th!

We were also blessed  to meet an incredible woman, also at the home of a less-active member. She is Sister Dunigan's cousin. Sister Dunigan is the sweet lady we tracted into and found out she was actually a member. Anyway, She and her cousin both came to church, and her cousin loved it! Her name is Queenola, she is moving to Cedar Falls from Chicago. We were able to go see her and Sis. Dunigan last night, and taught her the restoration. She seemed to love that too, and said she would get baptized if she knew it was true. Pray for her, that she will read and pray about the book of mormon!

Oh! We taught the plan of Salvation to Brandy, she LOVED it. She accepted the invitation, and is preparing to be baptized on December 21st! We are so excited for her!

All of our other investigators are doing well. We also had zone training meeting this week, and are anxiously awaiting our transfer calls. It has been such a busy, exciting, eventful week!

I am so truly blessed, and happy- exhausted- but happy! Please pray for me, I appreciate and need it each day. I love you all!
-Sister Monroe

 the Cedar Rapids zone of the Iowa Des Moines Mission. :)

 Our district

An incredible thanksgiving package. I was so happy to come home to
our little apartment with it waiting for me. Thank you mom!